Bula sisters! My name is Fine Paongo and I am Fijian/Tongan. I’m a proud aunty to 6 active nephews who are just full of life and can’t wait to meet more that are on the way yay!! My family consist of 4 girls and 3 boys, I stand as the 6th child. I absolutely love each of my siblings because we’re so different and though we benefit from each other differences, we also have similarities. One similarity in particular is that we absolutely love and extremely grateful to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We know it, We live it, We love it!
My Teachers from the Beginning – We Know It!
Fine’s beautiful and most loving parents. She loves and appreciates them so much!
Words cannot measure or describe how deep my love is for my parents. They have been my teachers from the beginning and they continue to teach with love and without failure. My dear father, who I miss and think about every single day, was a man who taught and led by example. He fathered many, not just to his children but everyone who he came in contact with. He always gave 200 percent (because 100 percent wasn’t enough. He always doubled the effort and sacrifice). When the time came for him to talk, it was always direct. He didn’t care how strong or harshful he sounded because it wasn’t words of his own but words that the Lord wanted us to hear through his thunderous voice. Sometimes in life we need that one person that’ll put us right back into our place. Even when we think about letting go of one hand from the iron rod, Dad made sure both hands are holding on tight. He was always giving that extra push and strength.
Among the many great counsels given by my Father, one that stood out was a simple yet powerful counsel, a reminder to “Always put the Lord first”. On my way to work I came across an elderly woman who was stuck standing outside her car, struggling to make a step towards her house. I found out she went into surgery and was released from the hospital that day. As I helped her and her husband safely inside their home, the elderly man turned around and softly uttered these words “If only there were more good people like you in this world. Thank you young lady”. As I stood in the rain, processing what just happened, my mind reflected on Jesus Christ, who ministered perfectly during His earthly reign. The Lord knows and is aware how busy life can get with each of us, yet he is always providing missionary opportunities along the way, not to burden us but because He knows how many lives we can bless through our service or perhaps He is testing our willingness to act and serve. We may not know how much of a difference it makes in a stranger’s life when we cater to the needs of our brothers and sisters. One thing I do know, is that when we put the Lord first, we reflect our identity as Disciples of Christ.
Now is the Time to Recognize and Act – We Live it!
“A Journey to a thousand miles begins with a step of faith”. The choice to serve a mission began within the walls of a primary room in Pilkington Rd chapel, Auckland, New Zealand. I can recall singing familiar songs like “I Want to Be a Missionary” and “We’ll Bring the World His Truth.” I wouldn’t say I received revelation in primary but in that very primary room, sitting next to the piano was where I felt and developed a desire to do missionary work. As my desire to serve a full time mission grew, my challenges seemed to get more difficult, hard to bear and I started to lose focus on my mission goal. I received an email from my sister, Sister Paongo who is currently serving in Australia Sydney South who said the following:
“CHANGE! What you feel is always different to what Heavenly Father feels. What you want for you is always different to what He wants for you. Sis, Heavenly Father’s will is what you should be seeking after and how do you know that? Through prayer! Do you pray enough for help to progress towards Heavenly Fathers will? To know his plan for you? Get on your knees and ask what his will is and be sincere about it. When you receive an answer WORK ON IT!”
I knew what I had to do but I was too distracted by other things, things that I thought was good for me at the time, but wasn’t in the end. I realize that the challenge isn’t just about trying to keep up with work and making choices, but it is recognizing the Holy Ghost in our lives and acting upon it every day. My trials have helped me to rely and trust more on the Lord because it is He who is our guiding light in the dark, it is He that has provided a way for us to return and dwell in the presence of our Father in heaven again. When the Lord brings you to a hard point in life, he does help you get through it. We just got to do our part and continue believing and living the gospel. We weren’t promised that the journey was gonna be easy but it’ll be worth it. On Fathers Day morning, I opened up my mission call at Dads grave with the company of my family. It read “Dear Sister Paongo. You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”. Reading that first sentence was worth persevering through the tough trials and getting me to where the Lord wants me to be. I couldn’t be any more excited and happy to serve an honorable mission. We can endure with the guidance and love from the Lord, its possible with God. (Alma 36:3)
Thee beautiful Fine opening her mission call with her Daddy! Fine’s Facebook post read: Happy Father’s day dad! Glad I was able to read you my mission call this special morning and thanks for holding up the rain. The bestest gift anybody can give to their father. I’M SO EXCITED!!!!
Because my parents love the Lord, my love for God has strengthened – We Love it!
My parents have never missed a stake temple trip. They love the temple so much they have my siblings and I join them for trips down to Hamilton. When I was young, before my parents entered the house of the Lord, my mother would always invite my siblings and I to touch the temple before going to the dairy or touring around CCNZ. Of course the invite was acted upon but I didn’t seem to understand why? Why would mum and dad want us to touch the temple first before doing other things? The answer wasn’t clear to me then but now I have realized that just as much as the Lord has reached out and touched my life, I made baptismal covenants to always remember him and I promised, as it is written and sung in the primary hymn book “I’ll go inside someday.”
On the 15th of August 2015 I fulfilled this promise. I was privileged to humbly go inside to receive my own endowment, my heart was filled with so much gratitude and joy. It was no ordinary day. It was a day where I reflected upon the teachings of my parents and how their immense love for the Lord has illuminated the way for my siblings and I to go inside someday. Just from a small but a meaningful act to simply touch the temple led each of my siblings and I to enter the temple. Whether being inside or out on Temple grounds, it is comforting to know the temple is a place where families can be eternal, where families are forever.
The gospel is a wonderful thing and what a privilege it is to be a part of it. It is simple. It is beautiful. We all have weaknesses and imperfections but is why the gospel has been restored to this earth so that we can have peace and joy in this life, and one day become like Jesus Christ, by knowing, living and loving the doctrines and teachings found within.
This February, thee incredible Fine will wear her own badge and serve a mission in the England London South Mission. PACIFIC LDS WOMEN wishes Fine all the very best! Fine is a blessing to everyone she meets, no doubt she will be will be a blessing to the people of England and most importantly, to her two Fathers above!
Main Feature above: Thee beautiful Paongo Family!